Rest and Recreate

How to envision yourself and all that is around you being made new

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Bonnar (new)If there is one word that appears on a label that can immediately entice shoppers, it is probably the word “new.” Advertisers often use this word as a selling point as they offer “new and improved” products. When the word new is not found on the label, then it likely appears on the lips of the person trying to sell us the product. For example, recently I was in a golf store being fitted to purchase new golf clubs. The salesman walked me through the display and pointed out a set of Callaway MAVRIK irons. But he was quick to add that the new and latest release would be forthcoming soon.

What is it about that which is new? Perhaps it is the freshness that somehow moves us out of all that is old and stale in our lives. That which is new holds a pristine cleanliness and scent. There is nothing quite like the fragrance of a new car. Perhaps it is the whole idea of beginning again. Everyone loves a restart. Or maybe the fascination with the “new” is all part of the tug of war that comes with aging. The older we become, the more we try to convince ourselves that we are young and new.

Whatever it is that draws us to that which is new, there is nothing quite like having something new. New and improved products have a subtle way of making us new. But we cannot rely upon things and gadgets for our newness. How do you stay new in your life and ministry? What do you do to renew yourself and your priesthood?

As priests, we no doubt rely upon prayer to renew us. No matter how challenging and old life becomes, we turn to God to breathe new life into us. I love the passage from Lamentations which states, “The LORD’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, / his compassion is not spent; / They are renewed each morning — / great is your faithfulness!” (Lam 3:22-23). Prayer enables us to encounter God who makes all things new: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rv 21:5).

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is but another way for us to be renewed by the God who makes all things new. Where else in life can we find such genuine newness as we are washed clean of sin and given a mulligan, as they say, to start over again?

This newness can also be uncovered in our annual retreat, weekly day off and planned vacation. It is also as simple as having good friends — not to mention, a hobby. How sad it is when a man who is preparing to retire from the priesthood has no hobby. We all need to have something outside of our work that revivifies us and makes us new again.

As we stand on the threshold of summer, God knows that for many of us, this is a time to rest and recreate. TGIST! (Thank God It Is Summertime!). The freedoms of these days made possible by fewer meetings and programs provide many opportunities for renewal in mind, heart, body and spirit. But there are opportunities even beyond to renew not just ourselves but our worship space, parish staff, presbyterate and faith community. What are your plans for renewal? How do you envision yourself and all that is around you being made new?

To help you answer these questions, we are dedicating this month’s issue of The Priest to renewal. In these days of summer, our staff and writers, who are ever committed to serving you, offer some pathways for renewal that can have a positive impact on your priestly life and ministry. It is our hope that these reflections will spark even more possibilities for you as you seek to grow in your priesthood.

Although many of us are no longer considered “new” or “young” priests, we can be made new again. When we embrace that newness, it not only benefits us but also the People of God. A new and improved priest could be an even greater source of inspiration and hope to God’s people. The fragrance of our newness could have lasting effects on the lives of others. I wish you a great summer that will yield much newness for you and your priesthood.

BISHOP DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest, is bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown.

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